Theresa May’s ‘Game Plan’ on Twitter: Wooing Young Brits or Saving Face?
AP Photo/ Virginia MayoEurope14:38 24.10.2017(updated 14:45 24.10.2017) Get short URL
She is not the first political leader to take to social media in a bid to engage with voters – but UK Prime Minister Theresa May has still got a mammoth task ahead to catch up with many of the other global politicians. A social media entrepreneur told Sputnik Mrs. May has a game plan.
British PM Theresa May has now taken to Twitter to improve her appeal with voters, although with just 405,000 followers she has a long way to go before she enjoys the same standing as other political leaders around the world.
Social media entrepreneur Jodie Cook says Mrs. May obviously has a strategy or game plan, having taken the time to increase her tweeting activity quite dramatically. It will also allow the premier to be viewed in perhaps a different light in the future, she explained.
“After her speech at the Conservative party conference, where she had several coughing fits and was offered a throat sweet by the chancellor, her tweet that included a picture of her speech and her various medicines, actually helped her to be seen as personable, despite previous criticisms that she was robotic,” Ms. Cook told Sputnik.
AFP 2017/ Paul EllisBritain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester, northwest England.
“Anyone in the public in politics is subject to hundreds of articles being written about them every day; their every move being scrutinized, their every sentence being responded to and often taken out of context. Perhaps in a bid to show her side of the story, the prime minister has decided to use a medium through which she cannot be misconstrued and misquoted.”
The social media expert pointed out that more than half of Twitter users were 34 years of age or younger, according to latest statistics.
Tweets by theresa_may
“So if Theresa May’s game plan is to resonate with a younger audience, it’s not the worst place to start,” she said.
“Personally, I suspect it’s more a strategy to get her own story across than a specific age group approach. Tweets are now printed in newspapers, read out on television shows and embedded in online articles. Perhaps a rise in tweets will mean a fall in speculation,” Ms. Cook told Sputnik.
Spontaneous Jump in Activity
In a move designed to win over young voters, the Conservative leader has more than doubled the number of tweets since the last general election in July, 2016.
Before the election, Mrs. May took to social media just 45 times — an average of one tweet every 6.2 days. Since then, however, she has tweeted 54 times — or one tweet every two and a half days.
Earlier in October alone, she increased her total 14 times, including six on Wednesday, October 18, ranging on a number of topics including unemployment, modern slavery and the European Council summit. One of her gang of followers is French leader Emmanuel Macron, who has 2.18 million followers of his own.
The prime minister has even set up an account on Instagram, the photo-sharing site, but has only managed to use it on eight occasions. All of her social media accounts are managed by Conservative Party officials, who are now actively recruiting a digital director to try and woo back the voters.
Importance of Social Media in Politics
Party officials say they need to improve their social media output again, having seen a revival by the Labor Party, whose leader Jeremy Corbyn has successfully put it to good use with his 1.6 million followers.
Former British prime minister David Cameron attracted 1.8 million followers and regularly used Twitter during his time at the helm. His former communications director Sir Craig Oliver said social media is as much about listening and engaging as it is about actual tweeting, so not following anyone as in Mrs. May’s case isn’t a great sign.
Barack Obama embraced technology and social media early on and has the largest number of followers, 47.3 million, including 210 world leaders, although he only follows just two himself — Norway’s Erna Solberg and Russian prime minister Dimitry Medvedev.
His successor at the White House Donald Trump is no stranger to Twitter either, regularly firing off tweets — often sharing his thoughts and views. He has nearly 41 million followers.
Former Indonesia president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono saw his popularity explode after sending out his first tweet and boasts 5 million followers, a similar number follow India prime minister Narendra Modi.
Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has 4.3 million followers despite describing Twitter as ‘a menace to society’ in the wake of the Taksim Square protests.